Game Preview by Sam Gerber
Last game (April 7th): TOR 4  MTL 2  

The Habs had quite the off-season, highlighted early by drafting Jesperi Kotkaniemi third overall, who looks to be the player the Habs have been missing for nearly a decade. And two big trades that saw the former Habs Captain, Max Pacioretty traded to Vegas for Thomas Tatar. Tatar will get a lot of playing time and has showed a lot of promised in the preseason. Montreal also received a second round pick and an A–level center prospect in Nick Suzuki. Suzuki scored a hat-trick in his first game in Owen Sound and will likely be the top center for Canada at this years World Junior Tournament. The other big trade was Alex Galchenyuk, traded to the Coyotes for Max Domi. Domi is the son of Leafs legend Tie Domi. Max, like his Dad, knows how to throw a punch which recently got him in a bit of trouble forcing him to miss most of the preseason. Domi is also an amazing play-maker, who can dazzle with his passing.

On the injury front, Andrew Shaw and Paul Byron both had off season surgery. Byron is ready to play and was recently named an alternate captain along with Brendan Gallagher. The newest captain of the Habs is Shea Weber, who sadly will be out of action until late December after having his knee surgically reconstructed in the off season. If the Habs can stay close to a playoff spot by the time Weber returns, Weber will be a huge boost to the team and could give them that edge down the stretch.

A revamped roster with a lot of players being healthy makes this season quite promising. The team had much better preseason and will look for Carey Price to help them steal a couple games this season. The hopes for the Habs is to be a bubble team to make the playoffs, and anything can happen in the playoffs.

Players to watch

  • Jesperi Kotkaniemi
    All eyes will be on the Habs rookie, who did more than hold is own against the Leafs in their preseason battle. Kotkaniemi is excited to get the season underway saying its “a little bit more spicy”. He’ll have his work cutout for him, but he belongs with the Habs and the puck seems to always find him.
  • Joel Armia
    Born in the same town as Kotkaniemi, the two will be line-mates. Armia showed splashes of talent during preseason. He’s a big body, with good speed and a great shot. He’ll have lots of opportunity playing with two big play-makers in Kotkaniemi and Drouin.
  • Max Domi
    Fresh off his preseason suspension, Domi will be looking to prove his worth on the score sheet in a more positive way than he did the last time he wore the Habs sweater.

Keys to Victory

  • Stay out of the box
    The Leafs addition of John Tavares has made their power-play more lethal than ever. The Habs penalty-kill was one of the worst last season and tonight is not the night they should be testing it.
  • Play quick
    The Habs repeated that they need to play with more speed, especially at the back end. You should see less D-to-D passes and more lead passes to capitalize on the speed game.
  • Ramp up compete level
    With the changes to the roster, the compete level should be a lot better than last year, with less mental breakdowns.
Matchup by All Habs staff
Scotiabank Arena, Toronto, ON | October 3, 7:00 PM ET | TV: SN, RDS

2017-18 statistics

MAPLE LEAFS CANADIENS
105 (7th) Points (rank) 71 (28th)
49-26-7 Record 29-40-13
29-10-2 Home/Away 11-26-4
6-4-0 Last 10 3-6-1
3.29 GF/G 2.52
2.80 GA/G 3.15
25.0 PP% 21.2
81.4 PK% 74.1
 CF%  –
eSAT Analytics by Mathieu Chagnon
 
Projected forward lines, defense pairings and goaltenders
Forwards
Marleau – Matthews – Ennis
Hyman – Tavares – Marner
Leivo – Kadri – Brown
Johnsson – Lindholm – Kapanen
Tatar – Danault – Gallagher
Drouin – Kotkaniemi – Armia
Byron – Domi – Lehkonen
Hudon – Peca – Shaw
Defensemen
Rielly – Hainsey
Gardiner – Zaitsev
Dermott – Ozhiganov 
Mete – Petry
Reilly – Juulsen
Benn – Ouellet
Out of the lineup
Scratched: Gauthier, Marincin, Holl
Injured: None
Scratched: Alzner, Scherbak, Plekanec
Injured: Weber, Schlemko, De la Rose, Deslauriers
Goalies
Frederik Andersen Carey Price
Record: 0-0-0
GAA: –
Sv%: –
SO: 0
Alternate: Garret Sparks
Record: 0-0-0
GAA: –
Sv%: –
SO: 0
Alternate: Antti Niemi
 What to Expect by Sam Gerber
Prediction: Canadiens 3  Maple Leafs 2 

The Leafs roster is highly offensive, but is only effective when they control the play. The Habs roster may not be as star-studded but is filled with players on all lines that can play and will compete. The Habs shouldn’t get blown out very often this year, but will have to move the puck fast. The Leafs, like in past years will focus on their offense and will get their chances, the Habs have to do their best to limit these chances and do their best to only allow low percentage chances. Being it the home opener, and a new found hope in Leafs fans, expect a loud building. Habs have to come out fast and take the energy out of the building and getting a quick goal will do just that. With a number of Habs playing in their first games together, there will be some mistakes. If those mistakes don’t end up in the back of the net the Habs will have a good chance at starting the season with a win.

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